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Seatbelt reglations (73 Buick)


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*Misspelled "regulations"...

We are currently fixing up a 1973 Buick. Interior all orginal and like new. Carpet is a bit faded between driver and passenger in the front and the bench seat has a rip where the driver sits. Other than that, looks like it did in 1973. Even the AM radio still works...The exterior is a whole new story. Quarters need replaced and a few other things.

Anyway...It has "3-point" seat belts that are two separate belts in the front seats. The shoulder harness latches to the lap belt buckle. I know alot of classic cars feature a plain lap belt. (Sorry, not sure what this belt system is called exactly)

Is it legal to take the shoulder harness off? It only took one bolt to take off from the inner roof of the car. Any opinions are welcomed!

Also, I plan on being a active member here. I may be young, but I looove classic cars!

Edited by MrRush28
misspelling (see edit history)
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It would be absolutely illegal. In fact in nearly all states it'd illegal not to wear them, and in many you'd be pulled over and cited just for not having them on. (And yes, almost every cop will know that 1973 is new enough to have had shoulder belts.)

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I strongly concur . . . do NOT remove them. Safety Equipment might not be used, but it still has to be there.

Generally, when front shoulder belts became standard equipment, they were in the configuration which your Buick as, as did other USA brand vehicles in that time frame . . . basic retractable lap belts, but also manual shoulder harness belts stowed in the upper roof rail area.

When the cars were new, few states usually had seat belt use laws, but such use was highly recommended (inclluding by insurance companies!). Therefore, many didn't use the shoulder belts, using just the lap belts as they'd done previously. Nor did law enforcement operatives get terribly concerned about seat belt use unless there was a crash or similar.

In the middle 1970s, the two belts were unitized into one unit. Now with many states having seat belt use laws, the use of seat belts is obvious (from the visibility of the shoulder belt section of the seat belt unit). Whether or not your local law enforcement operatives might desire to require you to use the shoulder belt section in addition to the lap belt section could be open for discussion. Key thing, though, isto ALWAYS use the lap belt and keep it buckled at all times in case a law enforcement operative might stop you for THAT reason (even if it's really for something else). If they see the lap belt in use, that MIGHT satisfy their curiousity and get you a "Sorry for the inconvenience. Have a good day." reply AFTER your license and insurance come back as "good".

As shoulder belt use was basically "optional" back then, it still might be. It could also be that if you inquire on this subject to different law enforcement operatives, you'd get different answers. You might be able to download a copy of your states motor vehicle statutes on this subject (i.e., use of factory-installed safety equipment) and see what that search might reveal. In any event, always use the lap belt as the "minimum specification" of things.

Perhaps some others might relate their own personal experiences in this area?

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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Guest my3buicks
It would be absolutely illegal. In fact in nearly all states it'd illegal not to wear them, and in many you'd be pulled over and cited just for not having them on. (And yes, almost every cop will know that 1973 is new enough to have had shoulder belts.)

While I agree with most of your statement, I do not even remotely believe every cop would know that shoulder belts were in 73's, or even when they became available. I have found that cops know VERY LITTLE about old cars and what is legal and not legal on them.

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While I agree with most of your statement, I do not even remotely believe every cop would know that shoulder belts were in 73's, or even when they became available. I have found that cops know VERY LITTLE about old cars and what is legal and not legal on them.

They match to the other equipment. If it has side lights and even 5 mph bumpers, they'll know it's supposed to have seat belts. A '73 Buick has both (albeit the bumpers are the 1973, 2.5 mph standard, which they'll still notice).

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My '71 LeSabre and '72 LTD have separate shoulder belts as discussed above. They have to be hooked to the seat belt. I have tried wearing them but since they are not on retractors, they are very uncomfortable. No wonder they were not widely used when they first came out. I always use the seat belts, however. I have antique plates on both cars. Last summer, I took the Buick to the mall in the city about 25 miles away. I passed a city cop going the other way and as I went by, I saw his brake lights come on. I kept going and turned into the mall parking lot about 1/2 mile down the road. When I stopped to enter the mall, the cop was right behind me. I turned, he went straight to the next entrance then doubled back by me. As I was getting out of the car, he drove by and just looked at me. I'm sure he was going to stop me because he didn't see the shoulder belt but then saw I had antique plates. It's my understanding that the seat belt law in Maine requires you to use whatever belts were in the car when it was manufactured but as the cop appeared to be about 30, my guess is that he didn't have a clue about what the car had for belts and I doubt any cop under 50 would have any idea. Probably if I had regular plates on, he would have stopped me.

Edited by John_Maine (see edit history)
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My '71 LeSabre and '72 LTD have separate shoulder belts as discussed above. They have to be hooked to the seat belt. I have tried wearing them but since they are not on retractors, they are very uncomfortable. No wonder they were not widely used when they first came out. I always use the seat belts, however. I have antique plates on both cars. Last summer, I took the Buick to the mall in the city about 25 miles away. I passed a city cop going the other way and as I went by, I saw his brake lights come on. I kept going and turned into the mall parking lot about 1/2 mile down the road. When I stopped to enter the mall, the cop was right behind me. I turned, he went straight to the next entrance then doubled back by me. As I was getting out of the car, he drove by and just looked at me. I'm sure he was going to stop me because he didn't see the shoulder belt but then saw I had antique plates. It's my understanding that the seat belt law in Maine requires you to use whatever belts were in the car when it was manufactured but as the cop appeared to be about 30, my guess is that he didn't have a clue about what the car had for belts and I doubt any cop under 50 would have any idea. Probably if I had regular plates on, he would have stopped me.

I've also been saved from fighting a ticket by cars having the year of manufacture antique license plates. Kind of hard for them to argue about a car sporting '58 or '62 license plates. I don't think that '73 cars of any make get a free pass on the three point belt deal regardless of state.

Jim

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They match to the other equipment. If it has side lights and even 5 mph bumpers, they'll know it's supposed to have seat belts. A '73 Buick has both (albeit the bumpers are the 1973, 2.5 mph standard, which they'll still notice).

Just to add an anecdote to the discussion, front shoulder belts became mandatory for all vehicles manufactured after January 1, 1968. The nuance to that statement is not model year 1968, but cars built after Jan 1 '68. Why do I know this? Because after buying my '68 it took me a while to figue out why my car did not have front shoulder belts, when most of the '68s I had observed did. I later discovered my car was an early model year build (Sept '67), and hence no shoulder belts in my car.

I concur with those above who stated to never remove factory safety equipment, and always wear your seatbelt!

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This is how the law in Minnesota is written.

It's pretty clear cut that you have to wear both if the vehicle was equipped that way from the factory.

Subdivision 1.Seat belt requirement.

(a) Except as provided in section 169.685, a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt, including both the shoulder and lap belt when the vehicle is so equipped, shall be worn by the driver and passengers of a passenger vehicle, commercial motor vehicle, type III vehicle, and type III Head Start vehicle.

It would be nice if there were an easy way to convert our older cars to a 3 point belt system.

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To me, with all due respect to our law enforcement operatives, unless the law enforcement community is in the middle of a "Wear Your Seat Belts" intense monitoring period (as happens periodically, pretty much everywhere at one time or another, especially in holiday or high-traffic seasons), seat belt use might not be one of their "things noticed" UNLESS they might desire to use that "suspected violation" to pull the alleged offender over and do some other "checks" at that time . . . even vehicle searches via "open portals" (think "windows which are down", "doors left open as they ask you to exit the vehicle")--this is why that if your vehicle only has lap belts (or you're wearing just the lap belt in a vehicle with separate shoulder belts) that you let the officer approach the vehicle and see that you DO have the seat belts fastened around you. I term these things "customer contact activities", as that's about all that gets accomplished, other than giving them the opportunity to reply "Thanks for your courtesy."

A good while back . . . I read an account of two Chicagoland chapter members who were pulled over by a younger-30s policeman. The offense? "No Seat Belts" . . . in their 1940s Buick. The officer was intent upon issuing the driver/owner a ticket, no matter what. As far as the officer knew, ALL cars should have seat belts in them, therefore "somebody" had to have removed them from the 1940s Buick . . . from his perspective. They might have protested long enough that he issued them a warning ticket rather than a normal ticket, but as you might suspect, they were fully "steamed" over that situation.

As I recall, they went far enough to get a copy of the Illinois motor vehicle codes just to carry with them should that happen again. This was well before the Internet was widely available, so they had to pay for the printed book.

Just some thoughts . . .

NTX5467

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During every major Holidays in Iowa all Law Enforcement Depts. institute a S.T.E.P. program.

Translation.....wear your seat belt or get stopped/ticketed at any time, no warnings.

$280.00 later

Here's a link to every state's seat belt laws. The fines are low, until they start adding in the "court costs", etc. Iowa's 1st offense fine starts at $25, but you can see from Rick's post where that winds up.:(

http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/seatbelt_laws.html

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While the question for the discussion is about whether it is illegal to remove or not wear a shoulder belt, the real question should be "why would you NOT want to wear one?"

If I am facing the chance of a 7,000 pound pickup slamming into me because the (idiot) driver was talking on a cell phone or texting, I want EVERY piece of safety equipment available to me to be in place and working!

As others have said, never remove saftey equipment. And I would add.....USE IT!

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I have 2 1970 cars a 70 Riviera and a 70 Skylark. Yes the shoulder belts are poorly designed and uncomfortable but I have found there are holders available that hooks the two belts together that doees help this have made it my habit to always wear my seat belts. My 58 does have lap belts but the 55 has nothing and I feel uncomfortable driving it. When I get the floors repaired it will get lap belts put in it.

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  • 8 years later...
On 1/21/2011 at 10:18 AM, Reatta Man said:

While the question for the discussion is about whether it is illegal to remove or not wear a shoulder belt, the real question should be "why would you NOT want to wear one?"

If I am facing the chance of a 7,000 pound pickup slamming into me because the (idiot) driver was talking on a cell phone or texting, I want EVERY piece of safety equipment available to me to be in place and working!

As others have said, never remove saftey equipment. And I would add.....USE IT!

 

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On 1/21/2011 at 10:18 AM, Reatta Man said:

While the question for the discussion is about whether it is illegal to remove or not wear a shoulder belt, the real question should be "why would you NOT want to wear one?"

If I am facing the chance of a 7,000 pound pickup slamming into me because the (idiot) driver was talking on a cell phone or texting, I want EVERY piece of safety equipment available to me to be in place and working!

As others have said, never remove saftey equipment. And I would add.....USE IT!

I fully agree with wearing both the lap and shoulder belts.  In 1978 I became the proud owner of my grandfather's 1970 Electra 225 coupe at the age of 16- put a kid in a big army tank and he'll be fine.  After a couple of weeks behind the wheel and seeing the " Fasten Seat Belts" over the steering column I was  playing around one night put on both the lap and shoulder belts.  I grew up watching my dad get in his 1969 98 Oldsmobile- he would turn the ignition, hit the cigarette lighter, buckle his lap and shoulder belts, light a cigarette and we would take off- mind the fact that no one else in the car had on even a lap belt- times have changed. After a couple of days I was  in the habit of wearing them.  Yes, the non-retractable shoulder belt when properly adjusted was confining and hard to reach the lighter and ashtray, but the car drove and handled better especially in curves and spirited driving.  Fast forward to 1984 coming home from college one weekend and getting in a head on collision with a 1982 Cadillac.  The older gentleman driving was wearing his three point seat belt but had the shoulder part under his left arm.  His head and chest creamed the steering wheel.  His unbelted passenger's head cracked the windshield.  I only had bruises on my left shoulder and across my chest from the shoulder belt.  I can't recommend enough the importance of wearing both the lap and shoulder belts in the 68-73 model cars.

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On 1/18/2011 at 7:47 PM, NTX5467 said:

I strongly concur . . . do NOT remove them. Safety Equipment might not be used, but it still has to be there.

Generally, when front shoulder belts became standard equipment, they were in the configuration which your Buick as, as did other USA brand vehicles in that time frame . . . basic retractable lap belts, but also manual shoulder harness belts stowed in the upper roof rail area.

When the cars were new, few states usually had seat belt use laws, but such use was highly recommended (inclluding by insurance companies!). Therefore, many didn't use the shoulder belts, using just the lap belts as they'd done previously. Nor did law enforcement operatives get terribly concerned about seat belt use unless there was a crash or similar.

In the middle 1970s, the two belts were unitized into one unit. Now with many states having seat belt use laws, the use of seat belts is obvious (from the visibility of the shoulder belt section of the seat belt unit). Whether or not your local law enforcement operatives might desire to require you to use the shoulder belt section in addition to the lap belt section could be open for discussion. Key thing, though, isto ALWAYS use the lap belt and keep it buckled at all times in case a law enforcement operative might stop you for THAT reason (even if it's really for something else). If they see the lap belt in use, that MIGHT satisfy their curiousity and get you a "Sorry for the inconvenience. Have a good day." reply AFTER your license and insurance come back as "good".

As shoulder belt use was basically "optional" back then, it still might be. It could also be that if you inquire on this subject to different law enforcement operatives, you'd get different answers. You might be able to download a copy of your states motor vehicle statutes on this subject (i.e., use of factory-installed safety equipment) and see what that search might reveal. In any event, always use the lap belt as the "minimum specification" of things.

Perhaps some others might relate their own personal experiences in this area?

Enjoy!

NTX5467

The "optional" shoulder belt is one that I would definitely opt for- it might save your face and chest from the steering column if not your life.  Yes this configuration is quirky but it is part of the classic car experience that goes with these cars.

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I totally agree do not remove any safety equipment

back in the early 80's i was driving a GS-350 as my daily and had a slow speed (each doing about 20-30 mph) head on

i was only wearing a lap belt, i don't even remember if it had shoulder belts

ruined both cars the other driver and myself were ok but because i didn't have a shoulder strap on my head hit the windshield pillar

not hard enough to do damage but if i had been going faster the outcome would have been different

use what you have because you never know if something happens how bad it will be

and

on Long Island the police run windshield registration sticker checks usually at the beginning of the month or sobriety checks i n the evenings and weekends

they do it so you cant see them to avoid them, on the sticker checks you slow down and they look inside to see you are wearing belts

i have never been through one with an antique so i cant speak to that.

but i am fine with them doing it, they are doing a job of keeping us safe  

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On 1/23/2011 at 6:06 PM, sintid58 said:

I have 2 1970 cars a 70 Riviera and a 70 Skylark. Yes the shoulder belts are poorly designed and uncomfortable but I have found there are holders available that hooks the two belts together that doees help this have made it my habit to always wear my seat belts. My 58 does have lap belts but the 55 has nothing and I feel uncomfortable driving it. When I get the floors repaired it will get lap belts put in it.

My '90 Riviera has three point inertia belts in it.  Even though the shoulder belt goes through a bracket on the corner of the seat, it still cuts into your neck.  I found the hooks described above work really well in making the belt comfortable.  I even have a couple of sheep skin sleeves w/ velcro closures that make them even more comfortable.  At a show, the hooks and sleeves slide off and go in the bucket with the cleaning gear.

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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On 1/17/2011 at 7:18 PM, MrRush28 said:

*Misspelled "regulations"...

We are currently fixing up a 1973 Buick. Interior all orginal and like new. Carpet is a bit faded between driver and passenger in the front and the bench seat has a rip where the driver sits. Other than that, looks like it did in 1973. Even the AM radio still works...The exterior is a whole new story. Quarters need replaced and a few other things.

Anyway...It has "3-point" seat belts that are two separate belts in the front seats. The shoulder harness latches to the lap belt buckle. I know alot of classic cars feature a plain lap belt. (Sorry, not sure what this belt system is called exactly)

Is it legal to take the shoulder harness off? It only took one bolt to take off from the inner roof of the car. Any opinions are welcomed!

Also, I plan on being a active member here. I may be young, but I looove classic cars!

My 70 Sklark had a wire retainer that was under the headliner trim.  You could fold the shoulder belt and store it up by the headliner.  No need to remove it and it won't just hang there.

 

The bottoms of these are hooked under your headliner trim then your shoulder belt is folded and tucked under the hoop that sticks up.

8721181.jpeg.b7d620a82287d549459b2133135e6ef2.jpeg

 

Edited by RivNut (see edit history)
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On 1/17/2011 at 8:18 PM, MrRush28 said:

*Misspelled "regulations"...

We are currently fixing up a 1973 Buick. Interior all orginal and like new. Carpet is a bit faded between driver and passenger in the front and the bench seat has a rip where the driver sits. Other than that, looks like it did in 1973. Even the AM radio still works...The exterior is a whole new story. Quarters need replaced and a few other things.

Anyway...It has "3-point" seat belts that are two separate belts in the front seats. The shoulder harness latches to the lap belt buckle. I know alot of classic cars feature a plain lap belt. (Sorry, not sure what this belt system is called exactly)

Is it legal to take the shoulder harness off? It only took one bolt to take off from the inner roof of the car. Any opinions are welcomed!

Also, I plan on being a active member here. I may be young, but I looove classic cars!

 

MrRush,

I have replaced the original lap/shoulder belts in several 67-74 era vehicles with 3-point retractors. They eliminate all the aggravation of those original style shoulder belts.

 

You could install 3-point retractor systems for the two outboard front seat positions for your Buick. They will bolt into the original attachment points and are designed for your vehicle structure. Use matching lap belts for the other seating positions. If you have a Skylark, you can use one of the available Chevelle kits to add 3-point harnesses for the outboard rear seating positions, if you desire. (I used Morris Concepts restraints for my 68 GTO, including retractors in the rear outboard positions)

 

You can buy them from a variety of suppliers. Here are a few:

Seat Belts Plus:

https://www.seatbeltsplus.com/product/WSCH205P.html?gclid=CjwKCAjw29vsBRAuEiwA9s-0B47j1WgLvzuk3qpPUDr2hhbRvUmNsYK6A6zZT70T-j0IAHekeA-5-RoCdPQQAvD_BwE

https://www.seatbeltsplus.com/category/buick-lesabre-seat-belts.html

 

Seat Belt Planet:

https://www.seatbeltplanet.com/ag-1781688.1781677.1781911-1973-buick-skylark.html

 

Snake-Oyl:

http://www.ssnake-oyl.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Session_ID=9f5c7bd864f03fe2824ed2dd0280ef13&Screen=PROD&Store_Code=Ssnake-Oyl&Product_Code=WSCH201P&Category_Code=3PRLS

 

Beam's Seat Belts:

http://www.seatbelts.net/products/retractable-lap-belts/

 

Morris Classic Concepts:

https://www.morrisclassic.com/collections/seatbelts

 

You can also order these from companies like Summit Racing or Speedway.

 

All these seat belt suppliers offer a wide variety of colors combined with either lift latch or push-button style latches. Most also offer an OEM appearing "GM" pushbutton option.

 

Choosing NEW belts provides an added margin of protection; I will not trust my life - or my family - to 50 year old seat belt webbing.

 

I installed Morris Concepts belts in my GTO and in my 69 C-10 pick-up.

My 58 Buick has lap belts with chrome lift latch buckles from Beams (purchased from Cars Inc in Michigan)

 

Make sure you are buying MVSS 201/210 compliant belt systems.

Edited by 95Cardinal
Added FMVSS standards (see edit history)
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